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Key quotes from Muhammad Ali memorial service


Louisville: The following are a selection of key quotes from Friday’s public memorial service honoring boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who died last week at age 74 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease:

Soldier for humanity”Besides being a lot of fun to be around and basically a universal soldier for our common humanity, I will always think of Muhammad as a truly free man of faith.”

— former US president Bill Clinton

Man for the ages”The greatness of this man for the ages was that he was, in fact, a man for all ages…. He fought not just the biggest and baddest inside the ropes but, outside, went toe-to-toe with critics.”

— sports journalist Bryant Gumbel

Rule-breaker”If Muhammad did not like the rules, he would rewrite them. His religion, his name, his beliefs, were his to fashion, no matter what the cost.”

— Ali’s wife Lonnie

Face of America”Muhammad Ali was America. Muhammad Ali will always be America.”

— Senior presidential aide Valerie Jarrett, reading a tribute from President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle

Daring”He dared to love black people at a time when black people had a problem loving themselves.”

— Senior Pastor Kevin Cosby, St Stephen’s Baptist Church

Swagger”He had charm and charisma and swagger, before we knew what that was.”

— Long-time friend John Ramsey

Heart of Louisville”Muhammad Ali was the heart of this city — the living, breathing embodiment of the greatest that we can be.”

— Rabbi Joe Rapport

Friend of Malcolm X”Having Muhammad Ali in my life somehow sustained my dad’s breath for me just a little while longer — 51 years longer until now.”

— Attallah Shabazz, daughter of slain Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X

Conscientious objector “At the key moment when he had that recognition, he used it to stand up to an immoral war and say, ‘No, I won’t go’.”

— Rabbi Michael Lerner, speaking about Ali’s refusal to serve in Vietnam

Laughs”I was clean-shaven when this started.”

— Comedian Billy Crystal, sporting a full beard, joking about length of the service

Agence France-Presse

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